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What Time Do Bees Wake Up? And Why You Should Care

If you love honey, then you have to love the bees that make it. These fascinating insects have always been a source of interest for me. I decided a while ago that I wanted more information on beekeeping and was surprised at all the details I found about these fuzzy yellow and black insects. The question that kept coming to mind is what time do bees wake up?

The gatherers are the bees that wake up the earliest. They are buzzing around just before sunrise. Getting up early for nectar gathering is crucial because the flowers still have dew, and the pollen is still wet.  The other bees in the colony have different sleep patterns.

bee sleeping in a flower

I found out a lot about bees and their sleep cycles and wake cycles through my research. There are different kinds of bees in every colony, and they all have different jobs to do. The different bee jobs have a direct impact on when they sleep and when they wake up.

Why Is Waking Up Early Important For Bees?

Bees are much like us when it comes to their early morning routines. They have to get up early to get the best flowers and pollen. As soon as they wake up in the morning, they will groom themselves (kind of like a cat does) until they are clean and fully awake.

Then they will go out and look for the best flowers to get pollen and nectar. Bees usually function better early in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Bees will get tired towards the end of the day, and some researchers have observed bees looking tired and worn out just like humans are before bed at night.

What Time Do Bees Wake Up?

Not all bees have the same patterns and behaviors in terms of when they sleep or wake up. We will be looking at the honey bee,  bumblebee, and carpenter bee for more answers.

Do honey bees sleep?

honey bee feeding on a flower

Honey bees do sleep; they have similar sleep cycles to humans. The time of day they sleep has everything to do with what role they have in the colony. Bees usually sleep between 5 and 7 hours a night.

To understand the waking hours of honey bees, we need to look at the sleep patterns they have as well. Here are some interesting facts about the sleep cycles of honey bees.

The foragers or worker bees are the ones that are awake and start working when the sun comes out. They work all day and only come back to the hive when the sun sets. There are two sets of foragers in each hive.

  • The older foragers are the ones that work during the day and sleep at night. Their only job is to forage for pollen to make honey. So naturally, their waking would be just after sunrise.
  • The younger foragers/workers have no set time for sleep as the older foragers do. Because they have to relay and receive information from the other bees in the hive, they can be busy during the day or night and generally sleep when they have time. It is also because they have the extra duty of cleaning the cells. They sleep and wake in shifts.
  • The drones are usually very lazy and don’t do much. They sleep at night and don’t do much work during the day either. They are lazy even when waking up, which is usually on command of the queen honey bee.
  • The Queen will only sleep at night if she has completed her daily tasks. If not, she might work right through the night or until all her duties have been completed. She wakes up with the old foragers in most cases. Learn more about queen bees.

What time do honey bees wake up?

The time a honey bee gets to work has everything to do with what kind of job it has to do in the hive. The foragers are up at dawn when the first rays of the sunlight hit the hive, and it starts to warm up. These are the hardest workers as they go out to forage for pollen and nectar.

The drones are the male bees who only have one job, to mate with the queen. These bees only mate with the queen and maybe help keep the hive cool by flapping their wings in the summertime. They are the lazy ones in the colony and don’t have a set time to wake up.

When colder months come around, they are seen as an extra mouth to feed, and the workers in the hive stop feeding them and later kick them out of the hive.

The queen bee is also up early; she not only has to lay between 1000-1500 eggs a day but there are also other duties she has to do to ensure the safety and prosperity of her hive. These duties may include a deathmatch; there are often multiple queen eggs when a new queen is born, all potentially becoming the next queen.

The first one that hatches will kill the unhatched queen eggs to ensure she remains queen. If two eggs hatch simultaneously, they will fight to the death until there is only the strongest one left.

What time of the day are honey bees less active?

A honey bee’s day winds down when the temperatures start to fall and the sun begins to set. Honey bees don’t see well in the dark and don’t usually come out at night. As the temperatures fall below 50 degrees F and the seasons change, the bees will become less active outside the hive.

Do seasonal changes affect when honey bees wake up?

Seasonal changes affect almost all parts of the honey bee activity, and these changes can affect the bees and when they wake up, and it even changes the taste of their honey.

The temperatures affect when flowers bloom, and this, in turn, affects the daily lives of bees. When it’s summer, most worker bees will be up and at work as soon as the sun rises. Flowers start to bloom in spring, and this is when you will see a lot of activity from the honey bees.

They will become much more active outside the hive. When fall comes around, bees will rise later because it takes longer to warm up the hive. The rise in temperatures is their cue to start work. 

As soon as it starts getting colder, bees will begin to prepare the hive for winter; they will work extra hard to ensure they survive in winter. While the worker bees are out early in summer, they will only be out in winter if there is a warm winters day.

Do bumblebees sleep?

bumble bee on globe thistle

Bumblebees do sleep: studies have observed sleeping inside the blooms of flowers and under their petals or leaves. These busy fuzzy bees work extra hard to make sure their hive is taken care of, and because they don’t really make honey, they create a container of sorts to store their nectar.

They work so hard they sometimes fall asleep in the flowers where they get nectar. They are very resilient and won’t die if they sleep outside. They work from before the sun rises to just after it sets. If it gets too dark, they will sleep in the flowers.

Male drone bumblebees will sleep outside after they leave the hive for good. They will sleep under flowers at night until they die.

What time do bumblebees wake up?

Bumblebees are some of the best pollinators out there. They can see better than most of the other species of bees, and they can also start earlier in the day. They can be out and about, gathering pollen and nectar before the sun rises and it just begins to get light out.

Like honey bees, bumblebees have foragers or workers, drones, and a queen. They do, however, differ in their wake and sleep cycles.

  • The drones don’t do much, so they don’t have a set waking time but sleep at night.
  • The foragers/workers begin their days early with the queen; they wake before sunrise and end their day after dark.
  • The queen is the hardest worker in the bumblebee hive. She wakes up before sunrise. In the first stages of her life, after she starts her hive, she will work every day as a forager to sustain the first few broods of eggs that she lays. She retires from foraging after there are enough forager/worker bees, and she lays eggs full time until the summer turns to fall.

What time of the day are bumblebees less active?

Bumblebees are less active when it gets dark outside. They will work until they can’t see. When the nights get colder and temperatures drop, they can usually be back inside the hive as early as 4 pm.

Male and female bumblebees leave their hives at the beginning of winter to find new mates from other colonies.

Do seasonal changes affect when bumblebees wake up?

Yes, seasonal changes affect the bumblebees, but it affects them in a different way to honey bees.

  • The male drones will leave the hive when they are done mating with the queen. They will search out new colonies and repeat this cycle until they die.
  • The workers/foragers leave the hive when winter comes, and they will be dead when summer comes around.
  • The queen bumblebee will start laying the last few brood eggs. The eggs are the new queens. When these queens hatch, they will leave their hive to find mates from other colonies.

 After mating, the queens will eat excessive amounts of nectar and pollen to sustain them for the winter.

They will then find a nice hole in the ground and hibernate until summertime. When summer comes, they wake up from hibernation and start the cycle all over.

Do carpenter bees sleep?

carpenter bee on orange flower

Carpenter bees do sleep. They have an interesting sleep schedule that they can adjust. Like most other bees we have discussed, carpenter bees are mostly up at dawn and come in at dusk.

What makes them so different is that if a natural disaster strikes and food becomes scarce, carpenter bees will adjust their sleeping schedules to fit the best time to find food. It makes finding food more accessible.

What time do carpenter bees wake up?

Carpenter bees will be out when the sun starts to rise, and usually, the foragers will be the last to arrive back at the nest. Carpenter bees are solitary bees and mostly have small hives with no more than a handful of bees in one nest or hive. They build their hives in wood or existing holes inside wooden structures.

  • The drones are up and awake early in the morning because after they have found a mate in a queen, they will stay with the tiny bee colony and protect the queen and the hive.
  • The older foragers or worker bees will be out gathering nectar and pollen early in the morning, and they will be the last to arrive back at the colony.
  • The younger foragers will be primarily active inside the tight-knit nest and will usually be asleep earlier than the older bees.
  • The queens: Carpenter bees don’t have only one queen bee: they have a few in each tiny nest, and all of them will be up early to lay eggs and some to go forage.

What time of the day are carpenter bees less active?

If they have not encountered a reason to change their sleeping cycle, then most carpenter bees are less active during the night. The females and drones will sleep first as they are deeper in the nest and the young foragers are in the middle.

The older foragers will get in last and sleep at the hive entrance because they are up the earliest.

Do seasonal changes affect when carpenter bees wake up?

Seasonal changes do affect carpenter bees. In wintertime, carpenter bees hibernate unless they have a schedule change. They gather all the food during the summer months and raise their young. In the winter, they hibernate, and the bees who don’t die during hibernation will wake up in summer and start a new colony.


When you are out and about in your garden during summer, you might find the bees buzzing around your yard. You might even see a bumblebee sleeping in your flowers. These remarkable insects are much more complex than they look.

They work from dawn to dusk, which benefits you and your garden and everyone around the world. So next time you see one in your garden, you can be sure they are hard at work.

What time do bees wake up, and why should you care
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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